If you’re in need of a good laugh this Christmas then it’s worth sparing four minutes to watch this GWCT video entitled ‘How grouse management is helping waders thrive in the Highlands’. GWCT has been promoting it as part of its response to the Werritty Review.
The video features gamekeeper Ronnie Kippen who works in Strathbraan – the area where SNH issued a load of gamekeepers with licences to kill ravens in 2018 ‘just to see what happens‘ (the licence was later withdrawn after a legal challenge exposed the GWCT’s ‘completely inadequate’ scientific rationale for the licence and a further licence application in 2019 was also refused).
It turns out it’s not just ravens that have been targeted in this area – gamekeepers have turned their attention to jackdaws – which we already knew about to some extent after a load of dead birds were found dumped in Loch Freuchie earlier this year (see here and here).
However, according to Ronnie earlier this year SNH issued them with a special licence permitting the use of jackdaws as decoy birds inside Larsen traps. Jackdaws are not listed as a permitted decoy species for Larsen traps on Scottish General Licence GL01 (just carrion and hooded crows and magpies) so we’re very curious about this licence and particularly on the quality of the ‘evidence’ (of purported damage to waders by jackdaws) submitted in the gamekeepers’ licence application. We’ve submitted an FoI to SNH and will report back in due course.
Meanwhile, there are some other crackers in this video.
According to Ronnie, “I can assure you, rewilding or land neglect is deadlier to a [mountain] hare than a 12-bore shotgun“. Er, ok, Ronnie, if you say so.
He also churns out the old favourite that ‘75% of the world’s heather moorland is found in the UK’ (although Ronnie claims it’s all in Scotland). This line has been repeated over and over and over again in recent years, and not just by the grouse shooting industry but also, occasionally, by conservationists as well. Those from the Dark Side often use it as justification for protecting grouse shooting.
Dr Steve Carver (@LandEthics) has written a robust and fascinating rebuttal of this claim and it’s well worth a read (here) to put things in to perspective.